As chef Josiah Sowell-Boyles was crafting the menu for Boulder Social, the idea of gathering around a table for a shared meal kept coming to mind.
“Our menu encompasses a little bit of everything to help entice everyone at the table to share a bite,” he says.
To put it another way, come hungry: The Boulder Social menu is loaded higher than the restaurant’s chicken pibil nachos and it reads like a culinary greatest hits list of sorts, with oysters, sushi rolls, crispy Brussels sprouts that snap, crackle and pop, and Impossible plant-based sliders—but that’s just a sampling before you even get to the main dishes.
In addition to the all-day offerings, Boulder Social, located at 1600 38th St., also offers a weekend brunch menu with chorizo breakfast burritos, “chicken” and waffles (but the chicken is actually battered cauliflower) and frozen mimosa margaritas, plus late-night specials on drinks and small plates. On top of all that, the space is outfitted with a 10-barrel, three-vessel brewhouse so Boulder Social can craft beer that syncs up with the diverse menu.
Located at 38th and Arapahoe, the restaurant and brewery is a notable newcomer to the area’s dining scene. But the prolific restaurateur behind the concept is certainly no stranger to Colorado’s dining and hospitality scene; in fact he could be considered a forefather.
Frank Day, who recently turned 90, pioneered Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. He made his foray into Boulder in 1972, when he opened the Walrus. His Concept Restaurant group is also behind Hotel Boulderado and Denver’s Stout Street Social.
The central Boulder spot that Day chose for his newest brewery and pizzeria is a familiar one: It was the site of his Tex-Mex concept that José Muldoon’s operated in the space from the mid-1970s to 1990. Most recently, though, the building was home to Ska Street Brewstillery, and, before that, Fate Brewing.
Day said he revisited the location because it’s one Boulder Social stands for: A good space for food, drinks and bringing families together. The building was available at the right time with a brewery built in, which was a big positive, he says. The Boulder outpost is a sister to Denver’s Stout Street Social, which is a popular spot for theater-goers and convention attendees in downtown.
“I saw a gap in the Boulder market for a place that was really serious about being a bar and a gathering place,” Day says.
What’s on Tap at Boulder Social
Boulder Social is drawing on decades of brewing and hospitality experience. Co-owners Frank and Gina Day have a background in brewing with Boulder Beer Company. Building on that legacy, they also tapped brewmaster Rodney Taylor, who brings with him two decades of experience as head brewer for Walnut Brewery in downtown Boulder.
“We’re featuring a varied beer lineup ranging from a light lager through a few different IPAs and a couple malty selections like reds, ambers and darks,” he says. “The brewery is set up in a way that we can lean into German-style lagers, but we won’t specialize in only those types of beers.”
The space, Taylor says, is flexible enough to make American ales, English and Belgian styles and even kettle sours. With enough faucets, Boulder Social can also feature a rotating variety of guest beers, hard seltzers, kombuchas and cocktails on tap, too.
The plan is to feature domestic and niche offerings from breweries near and far, Taylor says.
Pizza, Oysters and More
Those coming to Boulder Social can get a taste of Colorado with a burrata cheese appetizer featuring Palisade peaches or a blackened Rocky Mountain trout dish that’s mild and delicate.
The restaurant also has lots of hand-tossed pizzas on the menu, including one with fig jam and prosciutto and another with hot habanero honey. Or, you can build your own pie with enhancements like balsamic drizzle, bacon marmalade, pesto oil and more.
Other main dishes include fish n’ chips, spicy grilled cheese with raspberry jalapeno jam, burgers, steak and fries and more.
The oyster program features bivalves from both coasts, Sowell-Boyles says.
“Some of our current favorites are our Village Bay oysters originating from New Brunswick,” he says. “They have a delicate taste with notes of hazelnut and a creamy finish. Also Glacier Point oysters have been quite nice. Grown in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, they have a briny taste with a cucumber finish.”
As for the space, it boasts plenty of room for gatherings of all sizes with an indoor dining room that has 15 large-screen TVs and a center bar as well as an outdoor patio (heated, misted, covered and shaded) and fun yard games.
In a few words, the Boulder Social space is relaxed, spacious and inviting, says general manager Alex Hindman.
“We want our atmosphere to be welcoming to everyone from families to game day watch parties,” he says.
Delicious Pairings at Boulder Social
The menu at Boulder Social is wide-ranging. To help point you in the direction, assistant general manager Ryan Smith shares some of his favorite food and beverage pairings.
Grilled Salmon Salad + Red Bull Watermelon Mojito
“Both are light and refreshing, and the herbs and acidity of the mojito complement the salmon very well,” he says.
Hot Honey Pizza + Bootstrap Lush Puppy IPA
“The sweet heat of the pizza works really nice with the citrus bitter notes to the Lush Puppy IPA,” he says.
Ahi Poke Bowl + Elderflower Basil Martini
“The basil floral notes from the martini are very well complemented by the spicy fruity flavors of the poke bowl,” Smith says.
Grilled Peach Burrata + Burnt-Orange Old Fashioned
“I could eat and drink this duo all day! Just enough sweet, just enough bitter from the arugula, with just a little bit of smoke from the burnt oranges in the old fashioned—absolutely amazing,” according to Smith.
PEI Mussels + Angeline Chardonnay
“The garlic butter and fresh herbs in the mussels pair extremely well with the butteriness of the angeline chard,” he says.